Starship Technologies Delivers an Easier Lifestyle for Oaklanders

by Lynn Dang

Over 8,000 coffees, 10,000 sushi rolls, 14,000 sandwiches, and 5,500 burritos.

All delivered by robot – untouched by humans. San Francisco startup Starship Technologies has made the world’s first delivery robot. And the company’s next stop is the University of Pittsburgh. Designed to improve the everyday life of users, Starship’s mission is to “give time back to people,” said VP of Marketing Henry Harris-Burland, “Whether you’ve had a long night and want breakfast delivered or you’re up late studying and need some refreshments, our delivery robots are here to help.”

Founded in 2014, Starship Technologies spent the first half of life on testing and perfecting the robots’ autonomous capabilities. To ensure understanding in different environments, terrians, and weather, testing was done in over 20 countries. In April 2018, the company turned into a full blown commercial delivery service. Today, it operates 24/7 across the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Germany. The easy action of downloading the “Starship – Deliveries” app on iOS or Android enables people all over the world to use these autonomous delivery robots.

Starship plans to bring their pioneering robots to 100 campuses within the next 24 months. From the app, users can access a variety of local merchants to order food and beverages, drop a pin on a map, and track the robot’s progress as it drives to them. The robot’s sensors and detection system allows it to adjust speed and direction as needed. With the ability to travel at night, through rain and snow, across streets, and over curbs, users can order from a variety of locations.

Starship’s expansion to the University of Pittsburgh was made possible through a partnership with Sodexo. Recently, Starship completely mapped Pitt’s campus to ensure that the robots could move autonomously. Students, faculty, and staff can now access Oakland’s businesses in the app and place an order for the low delivery fee of $1.99.

As one of the first campuses that Starship Deliveries is serving, Pitt is part of the beginning of this delivery revolution. “We are proud to be a part of the Pitt community and work with this city,” said Harris-Burland.

Real-time Transportation Displays Keep Oakland’s Business District on the Move

PITTSBURGH – The Oakland Business Improvement District—in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh—is announcing the installation of TransitScreens in major Oakland property lobbies providing real-time information on multimodal public transportation to the thousands of daily Oakland commuters. This pilot project was funded by the University of Pittsburgh Office of the Vice-Provost for Research.

Designed as a business development initiative, Pittsburgh’s first publicly accessible multimodal transit screens aim to provide the public with current transportation data while attracting people to Oakland’s food and retail establishments. The screens have been installed at five Oakland locations: SkyVue Apartments, University of Pittsburgh’s Sennott Square Building, and UPMC’s Falk Medical Clinic, Montefiore and Presbyterian facilities, as part of the Pitt Smart Living Project. This first pilot phase of the project will also plan to install screens in Oakland’s retail storefronts as well.

Alexandros Labrinidis, Ph.D., and Kostas Pelechrinis, Ph.D., professors at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Computer Science and School of Information Science respectively – soon to be part of the new School of Computing and Information – are currently leading the charge on this initiative and find Oakland to be the perfect place to have it take off. “This technology is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh; not many cities have this. Oakland is the perfect host and this is definitely a positive for its high-tech nature… We have five Oakland locations with the TransitScreen displays and there are spots still open for other local businesses to jump on board,” said Labrinidis. The University of Pittsburgh’s pilot grant covers the cost of a 42”-50” flat screen, Transitbox, and a one-year subscription service through TransitScreen – retailing at $3,000 per year.

“The TransitScreen technology combines information from Uber or Lyft, Healthy Ride, Pitt Shuttle, UPMC Shuttle, ZipCar, and Port Authority,” said Labrinidis. “The information shown on the screens is customized for each location giving information relative only to where you are at that moment… We look forward to the next step where we integrate all this data into a multimodal trip information and planning mobile app.”

Kannu Sahni, Director of Community Relations at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Community & Governmental Relations, is proud of the University’s innovative endeavors. “The TransitScreen installations in Oakland and downtown as part of the Pitt Smart Living Project offers a great service to commuters by providing real-time transportation information. This project will also help expand the knowledge of researchers seeking to understand and design approaches to interfacing and interacting with commuters, and the challenges they face when utilizing various modes of transportation,” said Sahni.

“This project is yet another example of how the OBID will harness the talent of our vast university research community to bring Oakland’s public life into the digital age” said Georgia Petropoulos, Executive Director of the Oakland Business Improvement District. “Our retail and restaurants will benefit from new promotional activities designed to take advantage of transit riders waiting time.”

SkyVue Apartments, located at 3333 Forbes Avenue in Oakland, recently had the TansitScreen technology installed in their lobby to provide its residents access to the live-streaming information. “I am very excited to see this high-level technology in our community. TransitScreen efficiently assists our residents in getting to their destinations whether it be work, school or just out-and-about — not to mention, it keeps SkyVue on the cutting edge,” said Denissa Visconti, Community Manager.

Matt Caywood, Co-Founder and CEO of TransitScreen, finds Oakland to be the perfect place for this technology. “Oakland is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and even the country. With its dense clusters of small businesses and an active transportation network of public and private mobility services, it’s a neighborhood that needs to be served by TransitScreen’s public information, and a great place for testing new technology. We’re excited to expand TransitScreen service into Pittsburgh in collaboration with this dynamic team of urban computer scientists from the University of Pittsburgh.”

You can find more information about the displays and the Pitt Smart Living project at http://pittsmartlivingorg. If you are interested in having a TransitScreen display in your businesses or organization as part of the pilot project, please contact Alexandros Labrinidis at [email protected].

Dr. Alexandros Labrinidis is a professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Pittsburgh and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CS Dept). He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002. Dr. Labrinidis’ research focuses on user-centric data management for scalable network-centric applications, including web-databases, data stream management systems, sensor networks, internet of things, and scientific data management. He has published over 90 papers at peer-reviewed journals, conferences, and workshops and is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award in 2008 on user-centric data management.

Dr. Kostas Pelechrinis is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Riverside, while he also holds a 5-year undergraduate degree from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. His research is focused on network and data science. He is a recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator Award from the Army Research Office (2015) for his pioneering work on analyzing multi-dimensional networks.

 

Forbes Digital Plaza Project Awarded $200,000

Oakland is well on its way to becoming America’s first Digital District!

The Commonwealth Financing Authority, through its first round of Multimodal Transportation Funds,  has awarded OBID $200,000 for the Forbes Digital Plaza Project! Funds were awarded to community projects that will improve public safety, enhance streetscapes, and upgrade multimodal infrastructure.  The project is one of only twelve in Allegheny County to receive funding.  We are thrilled to make this announcement, along with our partners UPMC, Pitt, Carlow, CMU, Oakland Transportation Management Association, City of Pittsburgh, Community Human Services, and the Oakland Task Force.

To learn more about the project and how you can play a role in making Oakland America’s first Digital District, like Innovation Oakland on Facebook, or click here!

PITTSBURGH’S NEW NARRATIVE

A recent Forbes.com article highlighted cities from across the nation that are rebranding, including our ‘Steel City’!

Included here is just a snippet from the article:

  • Pittsburgh typically makes me think about steelworkers, bridges, Terry Bradshaw, and the American Mustache Institute, but the city’s newly elected mayor, Bill Peduto, says that’s changed.

    “For too long Pittsburgh has been viewed as a smoky industrial city but those days are over,” Mayor Peduto told me via email.  ”We have all of the right ingredients to spin innovative new businesses out of our universities, medical centers, and research institutions and attract companies from around the world.”

    Those ingredients are leading to progress, the most recent example coming in late December when Duolingo — one of the city’s startup darlings — was named 2013 iPhone app of the year by Apple.

    Pittsburgh Tribune columnist Eric Heyl notes “high-tech startups undertaken by Carnegie Mellon grad students attracted to the city by Google’s increasing presence” as well as “economic development corporations such as Catalyst Connection and Innovation Works.” Kate Stoltzfus, founder of Yinzpiration.com, cites startup incubators like AlphaLab and The Hustle Den for giving new businesses needed support.

To view the entire article on Forbes.com, please click here.